Pictures from the welcome reception for international students

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Lucia at Three-Years-to-Go dinner

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At the Three-Years-to-Go dinner at Medicon Village, we surprised the guests with a St Lucia procession. L-r: Ingalill Rahm-Hallberg, Sven Strömqvist, Eva, Per, Bengt E. Y. Svensson, Carl Borrebaeck, Carl-Gustaf Andrén and Göran Bexell.

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Many exciting meetings during first part of Africa trip

The delegation from Lund arrived in Cape Town last weekend and first visited Robben Island. This felt like a good introduction to our visit to the country. South Africa is interesting for Swedes; the South Africans have no forgotten the support Sweden gave to the ANC during the Apartheid era.

The South African Government is aiming to substantially increase the proportion of the population with higher education, especially the number who hold a PhD. At present, South Africa produces 1 300 doctoral students each year, and the Government has set a goal of 6 000 a year by 2020. On average, only 34% of the universities’ teaching staff have a PhD. By 2030, the goal is for 70% of them to have a PhD. This is of course a challenge for the country, and collaboration with universities in other countries on supervision and student exchange will be an important strategy.

Regarding Lund University’s collaborations with Africa in the form of co-publications, SA really stands out. Most publications have been with the University of Stellenbosch, followed by Cape Town and Pretoria. There are no doubt many fields in which our researchers collaborate, but we can particularly mention biotechnology, biology, water resources, road safety, packaging logistics, economic history, geology, astronomy, and sustainable development. There are also student and staff mobility agreements.

We visited three universities in Cape Town: University of Stellenbosch, University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape. In order to fit in all three, we split into two groups, one led by Nils Danielsen, the other by me. LUS President Clara Lundblad has kept a photo diary of her experiences. You can view it here and here (in PDF format).

At the University of Stellenbosch, the Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation, Prof. Eugene Cloete, and I signed a student exchange agreement. We already have a memorandum of understanding (see photo). Stellenbosch has been associated with Afrikaans and white students, and is working hard to fulfil Parliament’s requirements to facilitate study for underprivileged groups in society, i.e. black students. The management group whom we met were very interested. Our delegation was given a presentation of the University’s work on internationalisation, a tour of their attractive campus, with bougainvillea and jacaranda in full bloom. Students have the option of accommodation in fully catered halls of residence, with surprisingly low rent.

The members of the delegation met their respective counterparts and had in-depth discussions on possibilities of collaboration. They received an insight into life at the University.

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***

Johannes Stripple from the Department of Political Science and Barbara Törnqvist-Pleva from the Centre for European Studies described their visit to Stellenbosch as follows:

Pierre du Toit’s office at the Department of Political Science is at the top of the building, with a fantastic view. Beautiful old buildings spread out in a well-ordered grid pattern. Beyond the campus boundary, the vineyards and high Alp-like mountains take over. Stellenbosch lies calm and idyllic in a nest of greenery. We walked to the meeting room, which had a view in the opposite direction. Pierre pointed out the shanty town that grows uncontrollably up the slopes. The shanty town, which borders on the village of Stellenbosch, serves as an illustration of a complex, rapidly changing South Africa. We discussed the role that research and education can play in better managing the challenges facing the country.

Earlier in the day, Professor Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector of Stellenbosch, talked about how important it was for Stellenbosch to drive developments in society, and to recruit students from ’non-academic’ backgrounds. The nation of South Africa cannot afford to miss out on a generation of clever young people. Apartheid defined the universities. Stellenbosch, traditionally the university of white Afrikaans speakers, was opened up to black students in 1980 (if they couldn’t find an equivalent course at ‘their’ university) and, according to the Vice-Rector, the goal is for half of the students to be ‘coloured’ by the year 2018.

In South Africa, every university has to deal with its relationship to its modern political history. At the University of the Western Cape, established in 1960 as a university for “coloured people only”, the progressive atmosphere, and pride, is clearer – formed by decades of creative struggle against oppression and discrimination. When we visited Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela and other members of the ANC were incarcerated for many years between 1960 and 1990, their education ideal was clearly presented. They owned nothing, not even books or newspapers, yet it was important for them to teach one another. Education was an element in the struggle and a strategy for mobilisation and self-respect.

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Johannes also visited the Stellenbosch Sustainability Institute and described it as follows:

The Sustainability Institute is 15 km outside Stellenbosch. The institute was set up by Professor Mark Zwilling and his wife Eve. In a short time, the institute has been established as one of South Africa’s most innovative and interesting environments. The institute not only carries out research and education, but also works practically on sustainability issues in various ways. The institute is located in an “eco-village” with around 40 houses, a school, a nursery and an area for growing crops. They are experimenting with environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings, for example a house that is entirely self-sufficient year round using solar energy.

We studied their smart water and sewage systems, their biogas production for household use, which converts household waste to biogas and generates enough energy to power the cookers. The sustainable and energy-efficient solutions that they develop are all intended to be implementable. The Sustainability Institute is one of a kind. I haven’t seen such a combination of an academic and practical environment before. It is an innovative institute that takes its starting point in its local situation, and that combines theory and practical experimentation to create new conditions for research, education and social engagement.

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The University of Cape Town is an institution with which we don’t yet have any agreements, but there are nonetheless collaborations. We met Danie Visser, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, and deans and others who in one way or another have contact with Lund University. Cape Town is important for our Faculty of Medicine in particular. Ecology, astronomy, biochemistry, neurosurgery and archaeology are some of the fields in which there is already collaboration and where we have had co-publications. Cape Town is interested in collaborating with Lund University and we are planning further discussions.

University of the Western Cape

This university was visited by Nils Danielsen with one half of the delegation. Nils described it as follows:

This university was established for ‘coloured’ students. The aim was to train the lower middle-class as nurses and social workers. The university has a very strong connection to the Apartheid movement and the opposition struggle. Desmond Tutu has been vice-chancellor and a number of members of management were recruited to government posts when South Africa became democratic.

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Nils Danielsen meets midwife Reolebile Molly Moswate to hear about her experiences. She is an alumna of one of LUCE’s programmes on sexual and reproductive health. Photo: Anna Johansson

My general impression is that the management, on all levels, are very clear on what they want and what direction the university should take. They have made an impressive journey from being a teaching university, and subsequently a bankrupt teaching university, to being among the best 30% in South Africa and with strong finances. They are very strong in the field of physics, among others. The entire university is characterised by a clear sense of pride – they are particularly proud of their history – and there is a nice campus feeling. The university works strategically on the recruitment of individuals from underprivileged areas, especially the townships. They have programmes to support students in their education and financially. Their tuition fees are among the lowest in South Africa.

LU already has some collaboration through Erasmus Mundus (Eurosa, 3 MSc, 2 PhD, 1 staff), research collaborations in theology, and a visiting professor (Catherina Schenk) who will be coming to the School of Social Work in the spring.

LU can learn from UWC’s experience of working on widening participation, and that is one reason for LU to encourage our teaching staff to visit.

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In conjunction with an alumni event we were holding at the Embassy in Pretoria, we took the opportunity to visit the University of Pretoria. We don’t yet have any agreements with them, but there are some research collaborations, so it was interesting to visit.

Our visit there was fairly short and we had the opportunity to hear about the university’s strategic areas. There is already contact between the faculties of law in Lund and Pretoria. Katarina Olsson, an expert on foundations, had discussions with her counterpart in Pretoria. There is also collaboration within the field of archaeology.

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The Pretoria University campus is a mixture of architectural styles – new and old. Ann-Katrin Bäcklund, Barbara Törnquist-Plewa, Eva Wiberg and Magnus Jirström are standing in front of an impressive building – 17 storeys high. Photo: Anna Johansson

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Part of the delegation with some of our new South African friends in Pretoria. Photo: Anna Johansson

Part of the delegation with some of our new South African friends in Pretoria. Photo: Anna Johansson

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Alumni event at the Swedish Embassy Residence in Pretoria.

We had an initial meeting at the Swedish Embassy at which chargé d’affaires Karin Johansson went through the political situation in southern Africa and South Africa’s current political situation in relation to research and education. After the meeting at the Swedish Embassy in Pretoria, we had the privilege of holding an alumni event at the residence. Ahead of the event, we had invited all those registered in the alumni database and others through personal contacts and networks. A total of 40 people attended the event.

Margareta Nordstrand described the event as follows:

The evening opened with a welcome by the chargé d’affaires, Karin Johansson, who talked about the activities that the Swedish Embassy has in RSA and the importance of this type of network for the relationship between the two countries. Lars Ljungälv, Vice-Chair of the University Board, then expressed his support for more extensive collaboration between Sweden and Africa, and encouraged everyone to enjoy rewarding and instructive conversations during the evening.

Eva Wiberg welcomed everyone on behalf of Lund University and talked about the delegation trip and LU’s plans for a future Africa strategy. She also talked about developments at Lund University and underlined the importance of integration and cross-boundary collaboration, with Africa as a particular strategic region. Margareta Nordstrand then spoke about LU’s alumni activities and encouraged all those who had not yet registered to do so.

As the conclusion to the programme, Amelia Mofokeng and Rapuleng Job Matsaneng gave a lively and captivating talk on the commissioned education programme in Child Rights that they had taken through Lund University and what it meant for them personal and, most importantly, for the pupils in the school where Amelia is headteacher. She had won the ‘Headteacher of the Year Award’ and linked it directly to her training. Both were very pleased and grateful to have had the opportunity.

The evening concluded with canapés and networking, where many interesting and valuable contacts were established.

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University of Johannesburg

The visit to the University of Johannesburg was very interesting. We were the first U21 university to visit since the university was voted into the U21 network. Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduate Studies, Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation, Prof. Tinyiko Maluleke, as well as deans, heads of department and others were there to meet our delegation. Prof. Marwala already has collaborations with Lund University and will visit us next year along with other staff. Points of discussion included the need to reinforce research studies, student representation, strategic management issues, and internationalisation. It was clear that this university is on its way to becoming an internationally recognised university. Security issues are high on the agenda.

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Eva enjoys a cola and a breather after an intensive and constructive week in South Africa and Botswana. Photo: Anna Johansson

The day after the visit, I received a kind email from Professor Marwala with greetings from the Vice-Chancellor Ihron Rensburg. They observed that we were the first university from the U21 network to visit them and congratulate them on joining.

/Eva

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Delegation to Africa 23 Nov–5 Dec

Eva will be leading a delegation with participants from various faculties and the University Board, starting on 23 November. The schedule includes visits to a number of universities in South Africa and Botswana, as well as Botswana Innovation Hub. Furthermore, the SANORD network, of which we are a member, will be holding a conference in Malawi, where Eva will be the keynote speaker. We are really looking forward to the trip and hope you will follow our progress – we will be reporting from the trip here on the blog.

Africa has been identified as an important strategic region in the Lund University international action plan, which was adopted in 2010–2011. Swedish researchers and students have long been involved in various projects in Africa, but there are few university-wide collaborations and almost no agreements with higher education institutions. The aim of the trip is to investigate possible new collaborations and strengthen existing ones.

Lund University has worked purposefully and on a long-term basis to develop administrative contacts in Africa. This delegation is a natural, strategic continuation of that work.

By increasing our presence in Africa, Lund University can gain access to new European and Swedish grants and scholarships, and we need to be there to be able to invest, make contacts and establish agreements.

Programme in brief:

• Monday, 25 Nov Delegation divides into two; some visit University of Stellenbosch and others University of the Western Cape
• Tuesday, 26 Nov Meeting with Swedish Embassy in Johannesburg and alumni event in Pretoria in the evening
• Wednesday, 27 Nov Meeting with University of Johannesburg
• Thursday, 28 Nov Meeting with University of Botswana and Botswana Innovation Hub
• Friday, 29 Nov Meeting with Botswana International University of Science and Technology
• Monday, 2 Dec–4 Dec SANORD conference in Malawi

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High stakes in Horizon 2020

Eva was at the LERU Rectors’ Assembly in Leiden on 17–18 May. An update on Horizon 2020 was given at the meeting. It is hoped that the European Parliament will be able to approve the budget that the Commission has agreed on, at least EUR 70 billion, but this is still uncertain. Other issues discussed were gender issues in the context of the position paper that is being drawn up. If we think we have few female professors, it is nothing compared to the situation in the rest of Europe.

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Leiden. The LERU university leaders got to see the fire brigade turn out.

More pictures from the LERU meeting

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Interesting Hedda Days

Two very interesting Hedda Days were held last week.

The Hedda Days are an initiative of the Committee on Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities, in order to highlight the research that the Hedda Andersson professors have carried out at their home universities and during their time as visiting professors in Lund. The seminars demonstrated the breadth and expertise of this group of visiting professors.

More information about the Hedda Days on the LUM website (in Swedish)

The Hedda professors

Ellen Van Donk, Nils Danielsen, Ann-Marie Pendrill, Monika Wielers, Martha Fineman, Eva Wiberg, Kajsa Widén. Not pictured: Liora Bresler

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Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s speech at doctoral conferment dinner

Welcome speech by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg at the dinner following the doctoral conferment ceremony, Friday 31 May 2013

Dear doctors, jubilee doctors, honorary doctors, University Chancellor, deans, President of Lund University Students’ Unions and honoured guests and staff who have come to help us celebrate in style this evening. The conferment dinner is the party of all parties for the University. It is the faculties’ and vice-chancellor’s way of recognising the research that the new doctors have carried out. We are also grateful to have the jubilee doctors with us, that is those who received their doctoral degrees 50 years ago, and – last but not least – our new honorary doctors, who have contributed to the development and renewal of our university and who serve as our ambassadors.

Dear doctors, dear colleagues, friends and honoured guests. I will make this introductory speech in Swedish, but I want to stress that you are all included in a most hearty welcome. Additionally, I want to convey my warmest congratulations to the doctors who received the insignia of their degrees in the Cathedral earlier today. The possibility to welcome and congratulate you is all the more a privilege for me, because I am so proud of my university. We have a strength, a breadth and a quality of performance which gives us a unique position in Swedish university life, and this has also been recognised internationally, among other things by our hosting the ESS, the European Spallation Source being built on the outskirts of Lund. We hold this unique position thanks to the fantastic people working at this university, whether as researchers, lecturers or administrators, and – not least – our students. We are also fortunate in having so many good friends outside the university who wish us well, who help us in all sorts of ways and who encourage us to strive to be better. You are all most welcome to this gathering to honour the past academic year and its achievements.

We have had a lovely afternoon together at the conferment ceremony in the Cathedral. There were 207 new doctors, 22 jubilee doctors and 17 honorary doctors who spent a slightly nervous but expectant half hour in Universitetshuset before it all started. The question for many was no doubt – shall I have another glass of water or not? If I do, am I then going to be glancing longingly at Wiven Nilsson’s silver chamber pot beside the wreath girls after two hours? Have I got my throat sweets in case I develop a tickly cough? Am I going to fall over my dress as I go up the steps to get my degree? It went well as always, as it did for me when I received my PhD 15 years ago, in 1998. I’m sure you looked as proud today as I did when I walked in the procession. Look at the photographs that have been taken of you – you’ll find you’re standing tall! I love seeing those pictures of proud promovendi.

In 1998 there were 235 doctors, 20 honorary doctors and 8 jubilee doctors. We are living longer now, and are healthier and more and more active. In another 15 years I imagine there will still be roughly the same number of doctors and honorary doctors, but no doubt many more jubilee doctors. When my father gained his PhD in 1967, a doctorate was for many their life’s work, something they spent many, many years on. Then there were a quarter as many doctors: 52 doctors, 10 honorary doctors and only 4 jubilee doctors.

Today, the doctoral students at Lund University are essentially employed by the University from day one. Good terms of employment for doctoral students are very important for Lund University. You are under a lot of pressure to finish your thesis in four or five years, alongside all your subject courses. On top of that you should preferably have completed a course in higher education teaching so that you are qualified for teaching posts in higher education.

Lund University is one of the world’s top universities with an annual turnover of SEK 7 billion. There is no university in Sweden that can compare with Lund in terms of strength and breadth, which is also reflected in our high international ranking. We have achieved that position thanks to the fact that we are a comprehensive university. Our attraction will increase further with our major research infrastructure investments.

MAX IV is under construction and the planning of ESS, the European Spallation Source, is in full swing. Both will be world-leading facilities for materials research. The plans for the area between these facilities, to be known as Science Village Scandinavia, are also underway, and are the joint responsibility of Lund Municipality, Region Skåne and Lund University. Medicon Village is developing well, with research and innovation in the field of life science.

HOWEVER, the important thing, as I said just now, is that we are a comprehensive university. This means that the humanities and theology, social sciences, law, economics and the arts – as well as our successful faculties of science, medicine and engineering – give Lund University an advantage over other universities. We are the only Swedish member of LERU, the League of European Research Universities, and this is partly because of our strong research and partly because we are a multi-faculty university. Our faculties rank highly in various ranking systems. Interdisciplinary research and education gives us an overview that is unique and that we must safeguard. Interdisciplinarity at Lund University is a strong brand nationally and internationally. Our world and the human condition can only be understood through all the different perspectives LU’s research represents. When funding comes in to our strong research infrastructure in medicine, engineering and science, we will therefore also make sure that a certain amount of targeted funding goes to the other faculties.

So, what happens with strategies and values at LU? Per Eriksson referred to our strategic plan in his speech in the Cathedral. Since 1666, our university has devoted itself to research and education. According to our strategic plan we are to be: a world-class university that works to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

The plan also sets the goal of: Highest quality in education, research, innovation and interaction with society.

It also contains our core values: these include critical thinking, human rights and academic integrity, and the plan states that humour, curiosity and commitment are key concepts.

It is incredibly important to safeguard our values, especially ensuring that critical thinking, human rights and academic integrity are not undermined. In June we will be taking decisions on new regulations for research studies and on the list of student rights. It is essential that these documents are followed up. Everyone should have good conditions for their studies and research and should feel that they are seen. Students should feel secure in their day-to-day activities. This includes equal opportunities regardless of sex, religious belief, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

New doctors, you have now finished your PhDs and will not need to be covered by the regulations that are now being decided, but you have been able to have your say in the process of drawing up these regulations through your doctoral student representatives and your doctoral student ombudsman. We must safeguard the working environment at Lund University. You have played a vital role in the process and things can only get better.

You are in the middle of your careers, all in different ways, with different hopes. Many of those will be of continued work in academia. What opportunities can the University offer you? You must get the opportunity to gain qualifications and experience, and get involved in different projects and activities after your PhD. Lund University has now developed what we believe is a good way of managing this:

On the condition that the University Board takes a decision in line with the proposal made, Lund University will become one of the few higher education institutions in Sweden to have a career development position of ‘associate senior lecturer’. The position will entail good opportunities for career development in both research and teaching and a right to apply for promotion and a possible permanent contract. We see this new position as a strong competitive device to attract the best young researchers and lecturers while giving our new PhD graduates clear choices and career paths at our university. The work on this career development position has been carried out in good collaboration with our staff organisations.

But, and it’s an important but, a PhD is not only useful in academia. People with PhDs are needed in all areas of society, and society needs to fully understand this. Those of you who will be leaving academia have an important part to play by demonstrating this. In the increasingly rapid development of our society, the critical and analytical perspectives that you and we represent are becoming ever more important.

What is the situation for gender equality at our university? As regards the number of people gaining a PhD, there is quite an even balance between men and women, but when we get up to the level of professors, the situation is worse. Approximately 25 % of professors at the University as a whole are female. Some faculties pull this figure down significantly, we have to admit. The career development positions and recruitment of female professors are one way of righting this. More female role models are also needed. One of those who returned to her rightful alma mater through direct recruitment received her PhD at the same time as me, Professor Marianne Gullberg. We have both followed one another over the years, and were inaugurated as professors together this year. However, there are also other types of role model. One of those who received an honorary doctorate in 1990 was a good friend of mine, Birgit Rausing, and when I received my PhD in 1998, two strong women, Elisabeth Fernström and Margareta Nilsson, received honorary doctorates from the Faculty of Medicine.

Finally: from the perspective I have now, I can honestly say that the world is your oyster. This is the University’s ‘school leaving certificate’. Life is before you. Feel it. You could end up anywhere – maybe as vice-chancellors or professors, maybe as CEOs, or maybe as chefs – what do I know!

I sometimes dream of becoming a chef and running my own restaurant all’italiana. Then you would get to taste scaloppine al limone and petti di pollo alla parmigiana. It will probably always be just a dream – but it is important for me to hold on to the dream, and with it the sense that anything is possible. Make the most of the opportunities you have, and especially make the most of your families and loved ones who have supported you on the road to your PhD!

Lastly, a heartfelt thank you to Carin Brenner, our chief of protocol, and all her staff for their fantastic work to make this highlight of the academic year possible.

Thank you, welcome and skål!

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Vice-Chancellor emphasises need for more student places in speech

Vice-Chancellor Per Eriksson’s speech at the doctoral conferment ceremony in Lund Cathedral, 31 May:

Doctors, jubilee doctors and honorary doctors!

This is a special day, for you and for Lund University, a very successful university, and on its behalf I would like to welcome you to Lund Cathedral and this ceremony in your honour.

To our international guests, especially to our honorary doctors: A warm welcome to all of you to this wonderful cathedral. Our University had its beginnings here. After the King’s decision in December 1666, Lund University started to operate in January 1668. We are therefore planning to celebrate our 350th anniversary from 2016 to 2018. Today is a day of joy and academic celebration. It is a true demonstration of the international character of our University and our research community. We are proud to have you as our guests today and we hope to further develop contact with you. An English version of my speech is available for our international guests and the printed programme also contains some information about this academic celebration.

Dear new doctors. I turn first to you, doctors who during the past year have presented your theses and now, finally, are sitting here. You have put a lot of work into your research and have had a long journey to reach this point. The path has not always been straight, because research isn’t. No, it is winding and difficult and full of challenges, disappointments and hard work, as well as a lot of joy. It is often fun and enjoyable and full of surprises. It can make a difference and, to quote our strategic plan: understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Many thanks to all of you for the work you have put in. You are responsible for a large part of the University’s outstanding success and I hope each and every one of you think it has been worth the effort to become a doctor at Sweden’s largest and strongest research university. Lund University also extends its thanks to your family and friends, many of whom are here today, for the support they have given and the sacrifices they have had to make along the road to the PhD and the conferment ceremony.

I have had the privilege to serve as a mentor to Malin Kristensson, who this year has succeeded in completing a PhD in immunotechnology, getting married and having a baby. Impressive!

Dear honorary doctors, friends of the university and our guests of honour today. You have also made a major contribution to the University’s success, as advisers, role models and sources of inspiration. Welcome into the community of researchers linked to our university. I hope that your relationship to us and the faculties you represent continues to develop. Your knowledge and your commitment are exceedingly valuable to us and collaboration with leading international partners is among the most important activities for the University’s continued journey towards success, development and becoming a world-class university that works to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition. Allow me also to thank the faculties, which year after year demonstrate an outstanding ability to award honorary doctorates to such worthy, inspiring and exciting individuals.

Dear jubilee doctors! Today Lund University honours you. Just think what a journey you have experienced and what you have meant over the years to the business sector, society and Lund University, your Alma Mater – and think what paths you have trodden during the half century since your doctoral conferment ceremony. We are pleased to see a number of you who gained your PhDs 50 years ago here today. Thank you for the work you have done and for coming today. We also remember those who today should have been here as jubilee doctors but who are no longer with us. They are honoured with a laurel wreath here in the cathedral.

If you look back on the journey Lund University has made, we really are a successful university. Nowadays, a number of different global university rankings are published. We consistently rank among the top 100 universities in the world, and in some fields we particularly stand out. We are the most popular university in Sweden for international students. The total number of applicants also continues to rise and for the autumn semester this year we saw an increase of over 7 %.

During my four years as vice-chancellor, Lund University’s development has been almost unreal, and this is of course largely due to work carried out many years ago. In my time, the University has grown by over 1 500 employees and around SEK 1.5 billion in annual turnover! The growth can be attributed to research funding that we have won in open competition and we now have around 7 000 staff and a turnover of SEK 7 billion.

It is you who are here and our friends near and far who have made this possible. Our strategy is to work with cross-disciplinary collaboration and interaction with different partners in business and society, regionally, nationally and internationally. We are very grateful for the good collaboration within Lärosäten Syd and with Lund Municipality and Region Skåne in a range of areas. We want to be a welcoming university with a growing proportion of international students and teaching and research staff. That is the only way we can become, as it says in our strategic plan, a world-class university that works to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

With the opportunities, strength and freedom that we have comes a responsibility and expectations from business and society. I am therefore pleased and hopeful for the future, because I know that our university engages with a range of global and local issues from different academic perspectives. These include environmental and energy issues, housing for both students and the homeless, and human rights. We hold open debate, such as Wednesday’s event Debatt i Lund, where Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig took part in a debate on the theme of “Is democracy under threat?” I was able to listen to the debate online while I did my paperwork.

A lot is happening around our university. MAX IV is under construction and the planning of ESS, the European Spallation Source, is in full swing. Both will be world-leading facilities for materials research. The plans for the area between these facilities, to be known as Science Village, are also underway, and are the joint responsibility of Lund Municipality, Region Skåne and Lund University. Medicon Village, founded on a private donation from Mats Paulsson and generous treatment by AstraZeneca, is developing well, with research, innovation and development in the field of life science. Region Skåne and the University have taken major responsibility for this, and we are now gathering much of our cancer research at Medicon Village. Soon there will be as many people based there as in AstraZeneca’s time. Moreover, we expect within a few years to see a profit from this centre which will go entirely to research and innovation in life science.

The Skåne Research and Innovation Council is behind this excellent development and also has a range of other initiatives. I can, for example, mention the initiatives for smart materials, sustainable cities and personal health and the research institute we are establishing with Sony Mobile in the form of a skills centre at LTH for ‘cloud technology’.

We have a strong university, but we are facing many challenges. These include recruitment of non-European students who now have to pay tuition fees, and in order to recruit the best we need more scholarships for these talented students. It should not only be affluent international students who can study at Lund University; as at other top universities, the best should be able to receive scholarships to help finance their studies.

We are very grateful for the Government’s research and innovation bill, which was presented in autumn 2012, and especially the targeted investment in MAX IV. The bill really gives us the conditions to build a world-class university that works to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition. In total, the Government is increasing the budget for research and innovation by SEK 4 billion. The proportion we receive is usually around 10–20 per cent, which would mean an increase in our annual budget of SEK 400–800 million, of which the majority is to be won in open competition. We will now be able to meet the increased undertaking of approximately SEK 100 million for MAX IV and ESS that rests with us without jeopardising other existing activities at Lund University.

So, our research has good prospects. Things do not look as bright, however, for education. Here we face a major challenge. Sweden has the lowest proportion of young people going on to higher education and graduating of all the Nordic countries, and is below the average for the OECD countries. In Denmark the figure is around 50 % and the country now aiming for a target of 60 %. Sweden has a rate of 37 % and is making cuts to higher education. This jeopardises our country’s international competitiveness and is a very serious problem, as many clever students are barred from higher education. Instead, they often find themselves unemployed. I find this education policy incomprehensible.

Let us hope and act vigorously to ensure the Government changes its position and makes a sustainable long-term investment in higher education as well. This is what our country and our young people need and deserve. Students are the future and we want to invest in them and give them the best possible opportunities.

Lastly, many thanks to our own students, who have created Studentlund and increased the attraction of our university, and to our staff and friends who help us to build a world-class university that works to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition. Thank you!

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Minister planning visit to Lund

This week Per is in Taiwan and yesterday he visited the Ministry of Education in Taipei. Per told Minister for Education Wei-Ling Chiang about LU’s innovation climate and the Swedish law on intellectual property rights of academic staff. This interested the minister so much that he invited himself, his family and a delegation of vice-chancellors to visit us in Sweden – probably as early as the autumn!

Energy is a hot topic in Taiwan and discussions are currently underway on the possible construction of a fourth nuclear power station. The minister also said that Taiwan is following developments in nanotechnology, biotechnology and IT closely.

During the day visits were also made to semiconductor company TSMC and LED manufacturer Epistar, which both have their origins in the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). The companies are based at Hsinchu Science Park, which is generally regarded as Taiwan’s equivalent of Silicon Valley. The science park is adjacent to two of Taiwan’s leading universities, NCTU and NTHU, and the technology companies it is home to employ over 100 000 people.

LU delegation and Minister Wei-Ling Chiang

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Exciting trip to Taiwan

This week Per is visiting Taiwan with a delegation of LU researchers. The purpose of the visit is to increase collaboration and exchange with the Republic in both education and research. The invitation for the trip came from the Taiwanese Ministry of Education and the delegation includes Lars Samuelson (nanotechnology), Per Tunestål (combustion engineering) and Anders Robertsson (automatic control).

Lars Samuelson and Per Eriksson

On the programme are visits to some of Taiwan’s leading universities, including the National Taiwan University, National Chiao Tung University and National Tsing Hua University. Visits will also be made to the world’s largest semiconductor company TSMC and Taiwan’s leading LED manufacturer Epistar.

Lund University already has collaborations with institutions and companies in Taiwan, but the plan is to develop these further – partly as a complement to the collaboration that LU currently has on the mainland with the People’s Republic of China. Today an idea came up for leading universities here to arrange a day in which a larger group from Lund University would be given the opportunity to present research and education and discuss possible future collaboration. We will be considering this idea over the coming days.

Here is a message from Per in Taiwan (in Swedish):

 

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